By Gary Murray

Starring the voice talents of Nicholas Cage, Ryan Reynolds and Emma Stone

Written and directed by Kirk De Micco and Chris Sanders

Running time 98 min

MPAA Rating PG

Selig Film Rating FULL PRICE


Animated films have been changed forever by the computer.  With the use of these machines, cartoons have gone from hand drawn cells to giant world where the only limit is the imagination.  Pixar and Disney have always been the leaders of animation and their melding into one company seemed to be the lock on both animation and innovation. 

But, DreamWorks has been a studio that has forged their path in this world.  They have created such classics as Shrek, Madagascar and How to Train your Dragon.  Their latest is The Croods.

The film is set in the time of pre-history.  There is only one goal, survival.  Grug is the leader of his family clan.  He is focused on only one thing, keeping his family safe.  He does this by never trusting anything new and never trying anything different.  He has a wife, Ugga (Catherine Keener), three kids and his mother in law Gran (Cloris Leachman). 

Grug’s oldest daughter is Eep (Emma Stone), a teenager who is bored with her life and everything in it.  She wants something more than living in a cave and hiding from every beast in the land.  She has this thirst for adventure and the different.  She is amazed by the sun.

One day she meets Guy (Ryan Reynolds) a young man who seems a bit more evolved.  He wears a type of jeans that shows off his chest.  Around his waist is Belt (Chris Sanders) a pet sloth who doubles as a way to hold up Guy’s pants.  Whenever Guy hits his head a new and different idea pops into his head.

Guy believes that the world they know is going to be destroyed.  He is trying to travel to the other side of their world and to safety.  Guy has something that the Croods do not seem to possess, intelligence. 

After the cave of the Croods is destroyed, the family must move on.  Following Guy, they have a series of adventures where Guy again and again shows the benefits of intelligence.  The more the rest of the family begins to believe in Guy, the more Grug is irritated by him.  The two ideas of brawn against brains drive the story of The Croods as the family drives toward safety.  The film builds toward a giant confrontation that challenges the safety of the family.

The Croods is such a beautiful film.  The backdrops and visas remind one of Avatar but to a much more breathtaking scale.  The clouds and mist fill every bit of the screen in a way that makes the film look more like a graphic painting than a motion picture. 

Writers/directors Kirk De Micco and Chris Sanders have created a very believable world of fantastic creatures.  We get giant saber tooth tigers, flying turtles and beasts connected by the tail.  The sloth Belt steals the show time after time.  He is almost a slap-stick character from the silent age of cinema.  This is the type of world that needs to be explored in a much greater detail.

The film begins with the entire family hunting for an egg.  It is a thrilling bit of action that plays more like a football game than a struggle for food.  The beginning sets a pace for both action and comedy.   

The way these DreamWorks films work is with the voice cast.  The three principles of Nicholas Cage, Ryan Reynolds and Emma Stone are all spot-on perfect.  Emma gives that bubbly defiance that is the essence of a teenager.  Ryan Reynolds brings the flippant attitude and Nicholas Cage is as rough as sandpaper but still has the heart of a hero. 

The Croods is the first film of 2013 (so far) and should be on the short list for Best Animated feature in the next Oscar race.  It is the only film of 2013 that I want to see again.  Do not miss this one.





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